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As Domestic Violence Awareness Month Begins, LawHelp.org Offers Resources for Victims & Advocates
Legal Portal Features Legal Aid Referrals, Information, Self-help Tools
Resources accessible from LawHelp.org include easy-to-understand information about what constitutes domestic violence; orders of protection; issues around housing rights, public benefits and children; and the needs of special populations such as immigrants. LawHelp also provides referrals to local legal aid organizations and, in many cases, tools for self-help. These resources are often available in languages other than English.
Pro Bono Net, a nonprofit leader in increasing access to justice for the disadvantaged, developed and maintains the network of local LawHelp sites, which offer free, one-stop access to legal aid referrals, know-your-rights information and a variety of self-help tools to millions of visitors each year. LawHelp.org was developed with support from the Legal Services Corporation.
“Victims of domestic violence face unique and daunting challenges in finding ways to safely obtain desperately needed help,” said Liz Keith, LawHelp Program Manager at Pro Bono Net. “LawHelp can easily be accessed from anywhere to find potentially life-saving referrals, information about your rights and, increasingly, online forms and other tools for self-help.”
“We’ve had success with MontanaLawHelp.org getting information to domestic violence victims that live in remote, rural locations where their abuser is watching every move they make,” said Alison Paul, Deputy Director of the Montana Legal Services Association. “They can go down to the public library and get on the computer and get information about how to be safe.”
Through links to LawHelp Interactive, Pro Bono Net’s free, online system for completing legal forms, LawHelp also allows victims and advocates in many states to quickly and easily access and fill out needed documents; for example, a court form to obtain an order of protection, a crucial step for those seeking to keep themselves and their children safe. In the first half of 2010, nearly 6,000 forms related to domestic violence were completed using LawHelp Interactive.
Attorneys interested in helping those facing domestic violence can find pro bono cases and related resources online at the National Domestic Violence Pro Bono Directory (http://www.probono.net/
Those in need of legal services referrals, information and self-help tools can find their local LawHelp site at http://www.LawHelp.org.
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About Pro Bono Net: Pro Bono Net is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing access to justice through innovative uses of technology and increased volunteer lawyer participation. Pro Bono Net uses innovative web-based platforms—www.probono.net, www.lawhelp.org and www.lawhelpinteractive.org —to recruit and support volunteer lawyers and provide direct information and tools for self representation to low-income communities. Pro Bono Net has also developed Pro Bono Manager, pro bono practice management software that helps AmLaw 200 law firms increase pro bono participation, manage pro bono caseloads more efficiently and raise internal and external awareness of pro bono efforts. For more information, please visit www.probono.net.